NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Highway safety officials released new ratings Thursday for booster seats for children in cars, and it was a record year for the best bets.

As CBS News’ Marlie Hall reported, experts have warned that a child with no restraints can be in severe danger in case of a crash. Booster seats elevate children riding in the back seat, providing a good seat belt fit that is considered essential for kids ages 4 to 8.

“Booster seats are important for children who are too small for adults belts to fit them properly,” said Jessica Jermakian of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The institute said a record number of new booster seat models earned its 2014 “best bet” rating — with 27 out of 41 providing solid seatbelt fit on kids in a range of vehicles.

“What booster seats do is elevate the child and help guide the lap and shoulder belts so they are in the best position for protecting the children in a crash,” Jermakian said.

The lap belt should cross high on the thigh — not the abdomen – with the shoulder belt firmly in the middle of the shoulder. Improperly-fitted seatbelts can actually hurt kids, causing neck lacerations and other problems.

The institute said consumers should avoid the Diono Olympia and Pacifica models, and the
KidsEmbrace Batman no-back booster because of poor seat belt fit.

FULL LIST OF RECOMMENDED MODELS

Research shows a good booster seat cuts the risk of crash injuries by 45 percent for kids 4 to 8 years old.

The top-rated booster seats sell for between $25 and more than $350.

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